Nigerian police to beef up security at schools

Boko Haram's kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls sparked a global backlash against the Islamist group. (AFP)

Boko Haram's kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls sparked a global backlash against the Islamist group. (AFP)

Nigeria’s police on Tuesday announced plans to assess and improve security at the country’s boarding schools in direct response to the mass abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls by Boko Haram militants.

“The inspector general of police, MD [Mohammed] Abubakar, has ordered command commissioners of police to immediately commence a security audit and threat analysis of all boarding schools nationwide,” the police said.

Senior officials expect the results to help determine security strategies to reduce the vulnerability of schools, which have been seen as a soft target for the extremists.

Boko Haram, which has been fighting a five-year insurgency to create a hardline Islamic state in the predominantly Muslim area of northern Nigeria, was responsible for several school attacks, including the kidnapping of the girls in Chibok in Borno state on April 14.

The Islamist group has said it is opposed to the teaching of a secular, Western-style curriculum.

Slaughter of schoolboys
Militant fighters launched an attack on a boarding school in the northeastern state of Yobe in February, killing more than 40 schoolboys in their beds. The attack led to the closure of boarding schools across the state, with parents and pupils terrified of further attacks.

University students in the state capital of Damaturu also fled their halls of residence.

The authorities in Borno shut public secondary schools indefinitely in March because of Boko Haram attacks. The girls’ school in Chibok remained open for students to write their final exams.

Abubakar this week ordered security to be tightened in all boarding schools in and around the capital of eastern Benue state, Makurdi, after an apparent written threat from Boko Haram against two boys’ schools.

The Nigerian police response comes after the United Nations special envoy for global education, former British prime minister Gordon Brown, announced a “safe school initiative” earlier this month to prevent a repeat of the mass schoolgirl kidnapping.

Local business leaders have contributed $10-million, matched by the government, to improve security in an initial 500 schools in northern Nigeria.

“The education system that has the potential to transform Nigeria cannot be undermined,” Brown said in Abuja on May 6.
– Sapa-AFP

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